Live From Philadelphia

R.J. Johnson reports on the month's best live shows from the City of Brotherly Love

Jazz Appreciation Month 2014 in Philadelphia: A Recap

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This April was a month of truly spectacular music on all fronts in jny: Philadelphia. I know I missed a whole lot (see Philadelphia Jazz Project and Ars Nova Workshop) but here's my take. I kicked off the month with my trio Mischa Machez at our monthly First Friday Happy Hour at the Dog and Bull, always a well-attended event, with keyboardist David Dzubinski and drummer Phil Horwitz. That night was also the opening of this year's performance ...


March 2013: Billy Hart Quartet

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Billy Hart QuartetPhiladelphia Art AlliancePhiladelphia, PAMarch 20, 2013The music of the Billy Hart Quartet demonstrates a thorough amalgamation of intriguingly disparate musical elements which retains both the mastery of a group of accomplished veterans and the perpetually transformative nature of a leader dedicated to a lifetime of artistic pursuits. The ensemble, consisting of drummer Hart, bassist Ben Street, pianist Ethan Iverson and tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, has been Hart's working band since ...


February 2013: Chris Potter Quartet

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Chris Potter QuartetChris' Jazz CaféPhiladelphia, PAFebruary 22, 2013Although no longer considered the essential destination for working jazz groups that it once was, Philadelphia is still visited by high-level talent from New York that occasionally ventures south to perform in the city's one consistent jazz venue. Despite the current lack of mainstream interest in jazz, in Philadelphia or elsewhere, the Chris Potter Quartet performed two sets for a crowd which filled every seat, ...


January 2013: Larry McKenna Quartet

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Larry McKenna QuartetJanuary 17, 2012Arch Street Meeting HousePhiladelphia, PAThe Philadelphia jazz scene is well known for its reverence of jazz tradition. Compared to the constantly shifting modern scene of New York City, and the experimental projects produced by the current European scene, Philadelphia musicians are often seen as living examples of the preservation of jazz tradition. No one embodies this principal more meticulously than saxophonist Larry McKenna.McKenna is perhaps the ...


November 2012: Three Blind Mice

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Three Blind MiceNovember 29, 2012TimePhiladelphia, PAAlthough the classic organ trio format has been popular within the jazz tradition since the hard-bop era, it has not always been known for creating adventurous new material. Organ trios are instead known for their soulful grooves, straight-ahead readings of jazz standards, and an intent focus on the blues. Three Blind Mice, a Philadelphia-based trio consisting of organist Lucas Brown, drummer Wayne Smith Jr., and tenor saxophonist ...


October 2012: Fresh Cut from the Vine, Re: Trio

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Philly Jazz: Fresh Cut From the VinePainted Bride Art CenterPhiladelphia, PAOctober 20, 2012Philadelphia is a city filled with abundant talent and artistic potential, especially when it comes to the city's vibrant music scene. However, Philadelphia-based musicians often find themselves faced with a lack of opportunities to showcase their original works.The Painted Bride has been presenting jazz through its Jazz on Vine series for over 20 continuous years. Though not a ...


September 2012: Exuberance

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ExuberanceChris' Jazz CaféPhiladelphia, PASeptember 12, 2012Amongst the diverse array of working jazz groups encompassing the Philadelphia jazz scene, Exuberance--a band which performs a book of entirely original music--has emerged as a popular interest amongst musicians and non-musicians alike. By combining thoughtful writing with an intricate yet engaging style of jazz improvisation, the group has managed to create music which remains unambiguous while retaining a natural intellectual curiosity.The sound of the ...


August 2012: Brian Betz Quartet, Featuring Denis DiBlasio

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Brian Betz QuartetChris' Jazz CaféPhiladelphia, PAAugust 31, 2012Guitarist Brian Betz led his quartet through a set of standards at Chris' Jazz Café in Philadelphia. In a set comprised entirely of standards, the band used its divergent musical personalities to uncover new ground within a familiar framework.The set began with a fiery rundown of “Secret Love," a piece favored by jazz pioneers such as saxophonist Dexter Gordon. Baritone saxophonist Denis DiBlasio ...


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